C/o The Seattle Seahawks
12 Seahawks Way
Dear Mr. Allen,
It’s the time of year when all good boys and girls are firing off wish lists to Santa Claus. Since my wishes are more concerned with the Seahawks, and I’m probably not on the nice list anyway, I figured it was better to send my list to you.
I don’t know if you have seen the last few games; I heard you’ve been ill recently so you might not have much time to spare for the team you saved from Ken Behring. I wish you a speedy recovery, not just because being ill sucks but because the team you saved has hit rock bottom yet again.
So without further ado, let’s start at the top of my wishes.
1. A Real General Manager. Tim Ruskell showed promise when he started. He cut some chaff (Anthony Simmons, Cedric Woodard) and added some grain (Joe Jurevicious, Andre Dyson) but basically he was painting leaves on an already pretty complete masterpiece. Since that halcyon time, it’s been all downhill. Ruskell failed to retain Steve Hutchinson, a move that should be put on his gravestone. He then failed to replace Hutchinson, basically kept trying to repaint the leaves on the tree that was dying from the core outwards. I don’t know if Mike Holmgren would have been the right man for the job. I do think he deserved the chance to find out. His draft choices were more boom or bust than Ruskell’s, but I would prefer that over drafting midget corners in the first round because they are “character guys.” Talk about people at team headquarters being upset that Holmgren was “campaigning” for the position smacks of ego talking over common sense.
2. A Real Head Coach. As much as I used to bitch and complain about Holmgren’s stubborn adherence to a bland vanilla game plan that needed a little razzle-dazzle, now I realize how good the Seahawks had it. Whatever else you might say about Holmgren as a coach, the Seahawks were rarely outcoached, outworked, or outplayed. Holmgren commanded respect, he worked hard and he put his staff and players feet to the fire if he felt they were slacking. He also liked to give them little feel good things; he called them “cookies”, when he felt they had done exceptionally well. Jim Mora was seen as more of a “player’s coach,” whatever the hell that means. I can tell you what it looks like though. It looks sloppy. There are more penalties, more miscues, the team looks unprepared. And ever since Mora threw Olindo Mare under the bus after the Bears game, it looks like he has been losing the players. Against Houston the cameras caught him raging on the sidelines at his defense while the players sat with their heads hanging. Most didn’t appear to even hear Mora.
3. A Real Offensive Coordinator. Gregg Knapp has brought new meaning to adherence to a game plan too. If the running game isn’t working, keep pounding the ball. If we need to throw, let’s do a screen pass. I used to dream of Holmgren running a screen pass but he stopped using that play when Shaun Alexander stopped even attempting to catch the ball out of the back field. Now I wish someone would burn that page out of Knapp’s playbook. The offensive game plan is just that: offensive.
4. A Real Defensive Coordinator. Seattle is Gus Bradley’s first job as a defensive coordinator and it shows. Every play that burned the Seahawks defense in Houston was used time and again by Tampa Bay with the same results. I don’t know what Bradley calls the scheme where he rushes 3 and drops 8 back in coverage, but it doesn’t work. With Seattle’s pass rush, all it does is allow the quarterback to have a picnic as he waits for a receiver to come open. That scheme takes Seattle’s best group, the linebackers, off of the field. How does that even compute to something that works to our advantage?
5. A New Quarterback, at least for the rest of the season. I love Matt Hasselbeck. I feel he has given everything he can possibly give to this team. Watching him in the last few games though, he is not the same since his rib injury against San Francisco in the second game of the season. Seneca Wallace is no answer. He actually appears to regress as a quarterback every time he touches the ball. Mike Teel showed in preseason that he could be an answer in the future. Maybe the future is now, maybe instead of looking to the draft we should look at Teel and see what happens. It can’t be any worse than watching a once proud member of a Super Bowl team getting pummeled by an unpicked up blitz again. At the very least, it will give Matt a chance to fully heal for next season. At this rate, he won’t have a next season.
6. A Real Offensive Line. Early in the season it was injuries, especially to left tackle, that hurt the line play. That is no longer a reason for the abysmal play because the projected starting lineup has been playing together for the last few games. Sean Locklear is a much better right tackle than left. Chris Spencer is a waste at center because he still cannot handle line calls. Max Unger and Rob Sims appear to have a future. Ray Willis might have a future as well, but he really isn’t suited to this “zone blocking scheme” that Mora has been harping about. The only zone I’ve seen is the one around the quarterback which seems to be a “kill my quarterback” scheme.
7. A Real Defensive Line. Speaking of zones, Patrick Kerney has now reached the Grant Wistrom zone. He’s overpaid for his production, at least a step slower than he used to be, and doesn’t hold up on the run at all. His backup, Nick Reed, is a great player with a great motor, but he’s still a little slow and very undersized to play on the line in the NFL. Darryl Tapp has great flashes of brilliance that are coming more often and Brandon Mebane is the stud workhorse of the line. It’s all downhill from there as Lawrence Jackson and Cory Redding are average at best and Colin Cole is a waste of space as a big man that can be single blocked out of any play.
8. A Real Running Back. I’ve never been a big fan of Julius Jones. He has speed, size, and power but he has no vision. Time and again I’ve watched him run right up the back of his blockers while a hole sits wide open just to his right. Justin Forsett has great vision and speed but his size holds him to only being a Maurice Jones/Drew and Darren Sproles style pocket rocket. Since Shaun Alexander’s fall off of a cliff, Ruskell tried his shotgun band aid approach to replacing him with average draft choices and cast offs. This approach seemed to be a real sticking point with Holmgren who saw the players he wanted to use, like Maurice Morris, get elbowed out for people Ruskell wanted, like TJ Duckett.
9. Real Wide Receivers. Initially I agreed with the Deion Branch deal. It made sense that any wide receiver you picked up in the draft wasn’t going to be as polished and professional as a Super Bowl MVP. Branch has been unable to stay healthy and has looked more like another Super Bowl MVP, Larry Brown, than Jerry Rice. Maybe that’s unfair, maybe the injuries have been the mitigating factor. Whatever the reason, the wide receiving corps was the strength of the team and now scares no one.
10. Real Corners and Safeties. Deon Grant and Marcus Trufant are the best of the bunch. Josh Wilson is short but fast and makes more plays than he misses. Jordan Babineaux makes plays but takes horrible angles and Ken Lucas hasn’t come back to the starting lineup after getting hurt in Dallas. Kelly Jennings is another Ruskell first round draft choice that wouldn’t start on any other team in the league. Actually, he did his best work as the long snapper against Tampa Bay after Kevin Hauser suffered a collapsed lung. Yes, your 190 pound first round draft choice from 2006 had to become the emergency long snapper and that was only after Mora held auditions on the sideline during the game.
I’m sorry to sound so down on this team. It’s not my wish. I am a huge fan of the Seahawks, have been since moving to the Pacific Northwest in 1982. Even though I’ve asked for basically a whole new team, I believe this team has a lot of potential and some very good players but watching them this season has felt empty, like I am sitting at home alone on Thanksgiving. The table is set, the turkey is in the oven and the Seahawks not only failed to show up, they didn’t even call to let me know they weren’t coming. It’s an empty feeling, one that is making me question the wisdom of laying down my money on season tickets for a team that appears to not have a clue.
You could argue that the Seahawks are better this year. Yes, Mora’s Seahawks have already won more games this season than Holmgren’s version from last year did. In the last games of the season though, Holmgren’s Seahawks played harder for him than Mora’s have so far this year. In the last eight games under Holmgren, with Seneca Wallace at QB, the Hawks lost to Miami by 3, Arizona by 6, Washington by 3, and New England by 3. They beat St Louis by 3 and handed Brett Favre’s New York Jets a playoff killing beating in the snow 13-3. The Seahawks lost badly to Dallas on Thanksgiving Day and Arizona in the last game of the season. That team knew Holmgren was gone at the end of the year and still played its guts out to send him out on a high. That Seahawks team also had Billy McMullen and Koren Robinson as their starting wide outs.
In the last two games, the Seahawks have been beaten 58-14. Does that seem like a team that is playing for their coach or a coaching staff that is putting its players in a position to win?
To recap, my first Christmas wish is for you to get well. That’s always the most important thing, more than any football game.
After that please, please, please follow the Mariner’s example from across the road and hire the right man for the general manager position. Tim Ruskell started off well but in the end, he ran this team into the ground. Don’t be too enamored with Jim Mora to think he needs another year to get this turned around. A lot of great candidates could be put off if they feel they are being tied to Mora. They need to know that if, upon reflection, Mora needs to go that they can pull the plug on him.
Please save us Paul Allen. Once again, you are our only hope.
Yours in Seattle Seahawk love,
Proud member of the 12th Man